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THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY              305

6. NATIONAL EDUCATION

La Chalotais' Essay came before the public at an opporame^
time. In France the problems it had anticipated became urgent
as soon as the Jesuit schools were closed. In other countries,
which had not these problems to face, the views propounded by
Rousseau in the Emile were creating a widespread desire for
educational reform which made most people ready to consider
any serious discussion of the subject. In this situation the Essay
on National Education had some very decided advantages over the
Emile. Its doctrines certainly provoked opposition from the
Church and from the humanists, but not more than those of the
Emile. As against that, it made a more definite appeal to those
statesmen who sought to exalt the civil over the ecclesiastical
powers, or who were disposed to welcome a utilitarian system of
education. It had, moreover, the great merit of being eminently
practical. It had none of the subtlety of thought or of the tendency
to paradox which repelled plain blunt men in Rousseau's work.
It set forth in effective detail specific proposals which did not
involve any revolutionary changes except in the one matter of
administrative control. Thus it came—in the first instance, at
least—that though Rousseau was largely instrumental in inspiring
the movement of reform, it was mainly from La Chalotais that
the movement took direction.

The idea of a comprehensive national responsibility for
education found ready acceptance, first in Germany, and subse-
quently in France ; and it was in these two countries that it had
its most important developments. But even in England, where
the prevailing political and commercial traditions were adverse to
State action of any kind outside the narrowest limits, La Chalotais*
doctrines were not without influence. Adam Smith (1723-1790),
the founder of modern political economy, had been travelling on
the Continent from 1763 till 1766 as the tutor of a young Scottish
nobleman, and had spent a year in Paris in intimate relations with
the Encyclopedists at the very time when the question of national
education was being vigorously discussed. The result is to be
seen in one or two notable passages in The Wealth of Nations
(1776). His point of view, it is true, is different from La Chalotais'.
In some respects it is nearer that of Rousseau, whose doctrine of
natural liberty is to be traced throughout his treatment of economic